$11M secured for Upper Des Plaines River ecosystem restoration

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will coordinate with the Lake County Forest Preserves to restore 421 acres of Raven Glen Forest Preserve in Antioch to its original condition.

LIBERTYVILLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chicago District received funding to restore native habitats and improve ecosystem services in the Upper Des Plaines River Watershed.

The Lake County Forest Preserves is a partner in this project, which will take place at Raven Glen Forest Preserve in Antioch.

Sen. Dick Durbin announced $11 million in earmark funding will address ecosystem restoration and reduce flooding along 67 miles of the river in Lake and Cook counties.

Durbin secured funds in the Fiscal 2023 Omnibus appropriations bill.

“We are thrilled to work with the Army Corps of Engineers at Raven Glen Forest Preserve and grateful to Sen. Durbin for securing this funding,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Lake County is stronger, healthier and more resilient because of partnerships like these. Together, we can transform degraded lands into acres of high-quality wetland, prairie and woodland functioning at their highest ecological level.”

The project will transform the landscape to its original state. The funding will allow the Corps, in coordination with the Lake County Forest Preserves, to restore Pollack Lake, also known as Timber Lake, and Hastings Creek wetlands. The 421-acre site was modified to support decades of agricultural use. The project will restore the site’s natural hydrology, which will have local and downstream benefits.

To accomplish the restoration, the Corps will improve the stream channel and surrounding floodplain by disabling drain tiles, regrading the landscape, removing invasive species and planting native species. The improvements will mitigate flooding, provide habitat for federal and state-listed plant and animal species, restore ecological connections to surrounding natural lands, improve water quality and enhance recreational opportunities.

“We look forward to our continuing partnerships with not only Lake County Forest Preserves but all our federal, state and local partners on these important projects, said Lt. Col. Matthew Broderick, commander of the Chicago District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Doing this work increases the availability of critical habitat in this highly urbanized region and ensures it’s available for future generations to enjoy.”

As the local impacts of climate change continue, precipitation in the region is predicted to increase, said Pati Vitt, director of natural resources for the Lake County Forest Preserves. This increases the potential for more frequent and damaging flood events.

“This project is just one across the Upper Des Plaines River Watershed that seeks to improve the land’s capacity to capture stormwater and increase the soil’s capacity to hold water by planting native species,” Vitt said.

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